Monday, 10 December 2012

The Problem of Notes

-Mr.Jagadish Shri

Mr. Jagadish manages our program in Mysore. He has over 20 years of experience in the IT sector

During our visits to sign up schools for the 'Learn, Out of the Box' program, at one of the schools, I had to wait for some time for the concerned Management person to turn up. This gave me an opportunity to just sit and observe. One of the teachers had a huge pile of books on her table. She went on quickly scanning several pages in each of them and marking them with tick marks. Except in a few cases where she made additional comments it seemed to more of a ritualistic mechanical process. When queried she said that these were the notes (question and answers) of 10th standard students for the "History and Civics" subject. It appears that for every chapter taught in class it is the duty of the teacher to write or dictate these notes which the students have to copy. Subsequently the teacher has to collect, correct and distribute them back to the students. This implies a significant load on teachers.

When we went around with the team from Vodafone (our partners in this project) talking to teachers recently, we found that this is more or less the practice followed in all schools. One of the drivers for this is the examination for which the students prepare based on these notes. The other interesting insight we got was that parents insist on this practice as this is the only visible output that they can see from the schooling system to derive some sense of progress (or otherwise) of their wards. There are parents who come to the school and complain if the teacher does not give notes or forgets to correct them. This brings up another interesting topic of measurements - what is the goal of schooling and how to measure the same? That is a topic for another blog post!